What is capping?

Capping is a feature of pay as you go which allows you to make a number of journeys in a single day but limits the amount you pay for your travel. Each time you make a journey, you are charged a fare. Once the total cost of all your fares reaches a certain amount you won't have to pay for any more journeys for the rest of the day. This is called a cap.

If you make a lot of rail journeys or a mixture of rail, bus and tram journeys in one day within Zones 1-9, pay as you go with daily capping is better value than buying a Day Travelcard. If you make a lot of bus and tram journeys, pay as you go with daily capping is better value than buying a One Day Bus & Tram Pass. 

To benefit from capping, you must touch in and out on every journey using the same Oyster card (touch in only on buses).

How daily capping works

Daily caps are calculated over a 24-hour period, covering all the journeys started between 04:30 and 04:29 the next day. There are different caps for different types of transport and times of day.

We can work out when you have reached a cap because every journey you make is logged and the system automatically keeps a running total of:

  • All the zones you travel through
  • What time you touch in on each journey (this determines both the fare and the cap)
  • All fares paid in a single day

When the total cost of all your journeys reaches a certain amount, a cap is applied. Any journeys you make for the rest of the day in the same zones won't be charged.

The cap you're charged depends on the type of transport you've used. There are different caps for:

  • All services (bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most* National Rail journeys in London)
  • Bus & Tram (bus and tram journeys only)

Some journeys, no matter what route you take, are automatically charged to include Zone 1 and capping reflects this.

The caps are listed in our fares tables.

* Journeys on Southeastern high speed and Gatwick Express services do not count towards caps

Off-peak capping refunds in Zones 4-6

Did you know?

If you're travelling in London with children who don't have a Zip Oyster photocard, you can still save money by getting discount set on an Oyster or Visitor Oyster card. This means they can pay as you go at half adult rate for up to 14 days. Find out more

Automatic refund payments are given to eligible customers who repeatedly reach a Zones 1-6 daily cap but only travel at off-peak times.

In January 2015, we changed our daily pay as you go caps to reflect modern-day travel patterns. Many of the all day caps are cheaper than the old off-peak caps and the majority of customers now enjoy cheaper fares as a result.

However, if you are repeatedly paying more for a Zone 1-6 daily cap because off-peak caps for travel in Zones 4-6 were withdrawn, and are eligible as shown below, we will automatically refund you.


You are eligible for a payment if your day's travel means you would have reached a Zones 4-6 off-peak cap on:

  • Two or more days in a single week (from Monday to Sunday), or
  • Four or more days in a fortnight, or
  • Eight or more days in four weeks

The off-peak capping period is:

  • After 09:30 on Monday to Friday and
  • All day on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays

How much will you be refunded?

If the total fare you are charged for your day's off-peak travel is more than an off-peak cap for the zones you travelled in, we will pay the difference. The off-peak caps have been set as follows:

Cap Zones 1-6
Off-peak refund cap Zones 1-6
Refund amount
Adult-rate  £12.50
Railcard holders
Half adult-rate*

* 16+ Oyster photocard and JobCentre Plus Discount

When will the payments be made?

We will check at the end of each week if you are eligible for a payment. If you are, this will be available from the Friday of the following week.

The payment will be made automatically when you touch your Oyster card on a yellow reader as part of a normal journey.

Capping for journeys outside Zones 1-6

Adult rate off-peak caps apply for journeys across Zones 1-9 and to Watford Junction, Broxbourne, Hertford East, Shenfield and Grays. The off-peak cap applies if you make several journeys across these zones on the same day during the following times:

  • Monday to Friday: 09:30 and any journey that starts before 04:30 the following day
  • Saturday, Sunday and public holiday: from 04:30 and any journey that starts before 04:30 the following day

Child rate off-peak caps apply to journeys across all zones.

Find out about off-peak caps if you have a Railcard.

Calculating capping

As you travel, the system combines all the zones, times and fares recorded on your Oyster card so it can calculate the cheapest cap to apply. This means that sometimes you could be charged a cheaper off-peak cap even if you've travelled during the peak. This is because the system calculates the cost of:

  • All the journeys you made during peak times
  • All the journeys you made during off-peak times

It then adds these together to work out which cap would offer the best value. If this total is less than a daily anytime cap, you'll be charged:

  • An off-peak cap, plus
  • The cost of the individual journey(s) you made during the peak

If the total is more than the daily anytime cap, then a daily anytime cap will be applied.

Off-peak caps at different times

Off-peak caps apply from different times on journeys that start at some stations north of Chorleywood and Headstone Lane.

If you travel from a station north of Chorleywood or Headstone Lane on a weekday after the times below, you'll be charged a peak pay as you go fare, but your journey will count towards an off-peak cap.

North of Chorleywood

Station Touch in times
Chesham After 09:10
Amersham After 09:10
Chalfont & Latimer After 09:20

North of Headstone Lane

Station Touch in times
Bushey After 09:20
Carpenders Park After 09:20
Watford High Street After 09:10

Buses and trams

The adult-rate cap for bus and tram travel only is £4.50. This means you'll never pay more than £4.50 in one day if you only use buses and trams.

Capping compared to Travelcards

If you make several rail journeys or a mixture of rail, bus and tram journeys in one day, daily capping is better value than buying a Day Travelcard.

Day Travelcards are only available across the following zonal combinations:

  • Zones 1-4
  • Zones 1-6
  • Zones 1-9
  • Zone 1 to Watford Junction
  • Zone 1 to Broxbourne/Hertford East
  • Zone 1 to Shenfield

However, daily caps are available across more zonal combinations:

  • Zones 1-2
  • Zones 1-3
  • Zones 1-4
  • Zones 1-5
  • Zones 1-6
  • Zones 1-9
  • Zones 1 to Watford Junction
  • Zone 1 to Broxbourne/Hertford East
  • Zone 1 to Shenfield

See our fares tables for the full range of Travelcards and caps.